There are lots of International schools with good reputations in Beijing and our decision to apply for the Western Academy of Beijing was mainly made based on a visit I paid to the school in November 2015. And what convinced me?
The curriculum, the spirit, the student centered focus, the arts, the extremely helpful staff, the parent involvement opportunities - and of course the amazing premises!
So what's not to like? Only the tuition fees! All international schools in Beijing are outrageously expensive! But WAB is a non-profit school.
A typical school day for the kids:
The school bus passes outside our hotel (yes we're still staying here...) at 7.45 and it takes the kids around 20 minutes to get to school. A normal school day starts at 8.30 and ends at 3.15 pm. Middle school and high school students have 8 subjects in total. Each day they have 4 subjects (80 minute lessons) and the following day the other four subjects. The subjects both my sons have are:
Math, English, Chinese, product design, Individuals and societies, PE, film/music and science. For elementary it's slightly different.
Kids can sign up for a variety of great after school activities. They are all free of charge and the list includes: flower making, photography, all sports, film club and arts and crafts. Our son has just signed up for animal dissection :-)
And who are the other students?
Our kids already studied in a wonderful multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment in Belgium but all students were European.
The students at WAB are:
As you can see, all continents are represented - and in a fairly equal way.
WAB offers the International Baccalauréat programme which is not obligatory but the most popular choice for high school students.
A lot is done to guide high school students through the difficult decisions of course selections, university choices and whether in fact the IB is the right solution for them.
Since most students at WAB apply to universities outside China, so-called "destination talks" are held for parents. They offer concrete information about universities and requirements for specific countries/regions. A huge career fair was held last week at the high school. The students could follow work shops and ask professionals about their jobs, what they had studied etc.
Finally some pictures. From the place which, in many ways, is the centre of the universe for our kids.